“It’s surreal,” said Raelene Burgis, an Australian living and working in Singapore who came home for a longer holiday. She had been back a year ago, but her husband Nicholas Lawrence had not been home for three years. He looked forward to one thing: “Beer.”
Dwyers may have been among the first to arrive at the airport on Sunday, but her parents, Quy and Cu Nguyen, were among the last to clear customs. When they arrived, the party was over, the Tourism Australia welcome band had packed their guitar and instruments, and the staff shouting welcome were about to run out of suction.
It did not matter. There were more than three years of smiles, tears and hugs.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced the travel bubble with Singapore earlier this month, saying the return of tourists would contribute to a billion-dollar boost for Australia’s tourism industry. “Step by step, is all we know and love about Australia, by going back to normal.”
Under the schemes, fully vaccinated Singaporeans traveling from Singapore who present a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours of departure will be allowed to visit.
Visitors are no longer required to quarantine, but NSW Health said visitors must have a COVID-19 PCR test within 24 hours of arrival and also a week later.
NSW Health would “contact people who have recently arrived from abroad to remind them of these important commitments”.
Sunday’s flights from Singapore, four in total to Melbourne and Sydney, also included a handful of international students. More than 130,000 international students are expected to return over the next few months.
Although the academic year is almost over, some students are returning now to do practical work and consult with their counselors. Others come as soon as possible because they are afraid that the borders may close again.
More students are expected to arrive from December 6 on flights chartered by NSW. The first flight will carry about 250 students from more than 15 nations, including Indonesia, Singapore, Vietnam, South Korea, China and Canada, with a second flight to bring students from South Asia and India also planned.
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